AS I SEE IT 12/27: Eighth annual AS I SEE IT Year End Awards
AS I SEE IT
As 2004 winds to a close, it's time for the eighth annual AS I SEE IT Year-End Review.
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets
As usual, I should note that my selections are based on what I've actually seen this year, either live, TV, or via tape; which primarily means North American wrestling.
2004 PROMOTION OF THE YEAR:
Ring of Honor
What a year for Ring of Honor....one filled with incredible highs and incredible lows. The company was on the rise throughout the early portion of the year...and was moving toward what became its largest crowd ever on Wrestlemania weekend in Elizabeth, NJ.
Then, on March 3rd; company founder Rob Feinstein was implicated in a pedophilia sting by Philadelphia's WCAU Channel 10 in cooperation with the Preverted-Justice.com group. Weeks later, there was still online controversy as to whether or not Feinstein was still involved after he publicly stepped down, controversy that cost the company its Baltimore venue and its Maryland promoter.
Further controversy occurred when TNA pulled its talent from Ring of Honor (most notably AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels), ostensibly because of the scandal; but for reason that many believed then and now to have nothing whatever to do with it...and far more to do with jealousy over ROH's acclaim by independent wrestling fans. The loss of TNA talent affected ROH crowds negatively for several months.
The company's previously silent backer, Cary Silkin, was forced to take a more public role to address to controversies that continued when the RF Video company and Ring of Honor had a nasty public split as Feinstein was removed from any possible financial benefit from the company.
But most notably, Ring of Honor gave fans who were starved for wrestling that didn't insult their intelligence... a product that got them excited and one they could truly follow with enthusiasm. They had a champion in Samoa Joe that was kept strong, and had a high enough public profile in the United States...so that unlike WWE and TNA's champions, their title actually meant something.
Ring of Honor had a series of 3 matches between CM Punk and Samoa Joe, at least two of which have been nominated in many year-end awards as overall Match of the Year candidates; on June 12, in Dayton, Ohio, October 16 in Chicago Ridge, IL, and December 4th in Elizabeth, NJ.
The year included the reunion of all three members of the Midnight Express (Bobby Eaton, Stan Lane, and Dennis Condrey) along with Jim Cornette in October, the November return of Jushin Liger to the United States for the first time in thirteen years for a November 4 show in Boston and November 5th in Elizabeth, NJ.
2003 winner: Ring of Honor
2002 winner: Ring of Honor
2001 winner: WWF
2000 winner: WWF
1999 winner: WWF
1998 winner: WWF
1997 winner: WCW
2004 WRESTLER OF THE YEAR:
Chris Benoit, WWE
As it seems he always has as long as I can remember, Chris Benoit performed in a variety of high-quality matches throughout 2004; including his win at the Royal Rumble, as well as matches throughout the year with nearly every one of the top level RAW performers in a range from Big Show to Kane to Batista to Shawn Michaels to HHH..with the top match taking place at, appropriately enough, Wrestlemania XX.
In some ways, Benoit's win at Wrestlemania seemed the perfect culmination for a lifetime of the highest level of in-ring work in Japan, Mexico, and North America. Fortunately (we hope) we wrestling fans have a lot more years to watch Chris Benoit in the ring, as long as his neck stays relatively healthy, that is.
2003 winner: AJ Styles, NWA-TNA/ROH/Zero-One/independent
2002 winner: Kurt Angle, WWE
2001 winner: Chris Jericho, WWF
2000 winner: Hunter Hearst Helmsley, WWF
1999 winner: Chris Benoit, WWF
1998 winner: Steve Austin, WWF
1997 winner: Eddie Guerrero, WCW
2004 WORST WRESTLER OF THE YEAR:
Three words: Heidenreich...Heidenreich...Heidenreich.
2003 "winner": Nathan Jones, WWE
2002 "winner" Shane Douglas, Major League Wrestling/XPW
2001 "winner": Buff Bagwell, WCW/WWF/independent
2000 "winner": Kevin Nash, WCW
1999 "winner": Hulk Hogan, WCW
1998 "winner": Giant Silva, WWF
1997 "winner": Hulk Hogan, WCW
2004 TAG TEAM OF THE YEAR:
America's Most Wanted (Chris Harris and James Storm), NWA-TNA
Despite injuries and incomprehensible booking (including temporarily splitting the team) Chris Harris and James Storm continued their string of excellence, topped off by a "Six Sides of Steel" cage match against XXX (Christopher Daniels and Elik Skipper) at the December 5th TNA Tunring Point PPV.
Through the year the team had matches against Team Japan (Nosawa and Miyamoto), Team Canada (Petey Williams and Bobby Roode), Michael Shane and Frankie Kazarian. They were even able to make the lame Abyss and Alex Shelley (and don't forget Goldylocks) storylines um...bearable.
2003 winner: America's Most Wanted (Chris Harris and James Storm), NWA-TNA
2002 winner: Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit, WWE
2001 winner: Matt and Jeff Hardy, WWF
2000 winner: Matt and Jeff Hardy, WWF
1999 winner: Matt and Jeff Hardy, WWF
1998 winner: Sabu/Rob Van Dam, ECW
1997 winner: Sabu/Rob Van Dam, ECW
2004 ANGLE/FEUD OF THE YEAR WINNER:
Chris Benoit vs. HHH vs. Shawn Michaels
This three-way feud, interweaving the HBK-HHH feud spread over years with Benoit's quest to "finally" win his World Title, built by the angle on RAW where HBK superkicked Chris Benoit, and signed the contract for the Wrestlemania main event match "in Benoit's place", setting up the 3-way main was the top program in WWE this year. It shows what WWE is capable of doing if it truly wants to have its top belts and programs mean something beside massaging the ego of the son-in-law of the company's head and the husband of the company's head writer.
Honorable mention goes to the Samoa Joe-CM Punk program, which produced two of the top ranked matches anywhere in the United States this year. Get a tape of either of these matches. Better yet, get a VHS/DVD of "All Star Extravaganza II", and watch one of the hottest crowds you'll ever see, one that was absolutely primed for a title change (one they ultimately didn't get).
2003 winner: Danny Maff/Maffia "retirement angle", Jersey All Pro Wrestling, September 27, 2003, Rahway, NJ
2002 winner: AJ Styles-Jerry Lynn, NWA-TNA/Ring of Honor
2001 winner: ECW turns on WWF, July 9, 2001, Phillips Arena, Atlanta
2000 winner: The Stephanie McMahon-Vince McMahon-Shane McMahon-HHH-Kurt Angle soap opera
1999 winner: Test (Andrew Martin)-Stephanie McMahon Wedding angle
1998 winner: Vince McMahon as heel promoter versus Steve Austin
1997 winner: nWo-WCW angle
2004 WORST/MOST TASTELESS ANGLES OF THE YEAR:
The various adventures involving the romantic triangle of Lita, Matt Hardy, and Kane
This multi-part classic of scripted bad taste had:
* The Lita/Kane/Matt Hardy "joyous news" of a pregnancy. Shortly afterward, Lita discovered that she "wasn't sure whose baby it was" as a result Kane (while WWE never named it as such) violating Lita (after all... WWE NEVER depicts rape on its shows).
* The Lita/Kane miscarriage angle, used to introduce that mean old Chernobyl steroid mutant from hell, Gene Snitsky, knocking over Kane who fell on Lita causing her to "miscarry" the baby.
* Gene Snitsky's various adventures with "Lita's dead baby son", including wheeling "the baby" out in a baby carriage, "talking to 'the baby', who didn't answer because it was dead", then finally punting "the baby" into the stands. At least the former "Twin Tackle" remembered some of his football skills. Wonder what would have happened if he'd whiffed on live TV?
Dishonorable mention goes to:
1) The John Heidenriech exhibition of poetry reading and simulated anal raping of Michael Cole.
2) The "stabbing angle" involving Carlitos Colon and John Cena, designed to remind fans of either the stabbing murder of Bruiser Brody by Jose Huertas "Invader I" Gonzalez, the business partner of his father, Carlos Colon; or of the attack only two weeks prior on two TNA wrestlers at a Nashville bar.
Real life dishonorable mention goes to John Layfield's attempt to play Hitler at a WWE show in Germany.
Real life dishonorable mention #2 goes to Vince McMahon's exploitive promo during the Smackdown in Iraq telecast against the "media who aren't reporting the good things about the war in Iraq" that sounded as if it had been written by Donald Rumsfield (who ironically enough gave a similar speech only days later at a news conference).
Early nominee for 2005 goes to the reports that Vince McMahon is going to do "an ECW PPV" in May at the Hammerstein Ballroom...and without the man who gave fans the post-1994 version of ECW, Paul Heyman.
2003 "winner": Vince-Stephanie McMahon angle for "control of Smackdown" and father-daughter No Mercy match
2002 "winner": Katie Vick angle, WWF/E
2001 "winner": Vince McMahon "Kiss My Ass" angle, Monday Night RAW, November 19, 26, and 28
2000 "winner": Stacey Keibler-David Flair and Mark Henry-Mae Young "pregnancy angles", WWF
1999 "winner": The Paul Wight/Big Bossman "cancer angle", WWF
1998 "winner": Ric Flair "heart attack" angle and the Hawk/Scott Hall drug angles, WCW/WWF
1997 "winner": DeGenerationX/Nation of Domination "racial angle", WWF
2004 MATCHES OF THE YEAR:
WWE: Triple H- Chris Benoit-Shawn Michaels, WWE, Wrestlemania XX, March 14, 2004, Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
The match was built around the drama of Chris Benoit "finally" becoming a World Champion (there is that small matter of winning the WCW title beforfe walking out to come to WWE). It showed that HHH can work a helluva match (when he wants to), that Shawn Michaels still can work a helluva match (when his body will let him), and that as we all knew Chris Benoit damned near ALWAYS worked a great match.
Independent: CM Punk-Samoa Joe, Ring of Honor, June 12, 2004, Dayton, Ohio and CM Punk-Samoa Joe, Ring of Honor, October 16, 2004, Chicago Ridge, IL (tie)
Although many area already picking the October match between the two as their Match of the Year...I've seen both on tape, and thought the first match had more intensity.
Mind you, it's kind of hard to argue with someone who picks either one. I think that the second was set up more effectively via storyline (having a backstory of a previous match to go into a second match helps).
Additionally, although their third match may have not have been up to the standards of the previous two (which, I assure you doesn't mean it was a bad match...just not a ****1/2-***** match, as Punk had to work at least part of the match with a dislocated shoulder), the crowd atmosphere for their third match was off the charts incredible. I haven't seen the tape of the show, but if the tape does the live moment justice...any promoters would give his first-born to get just one moment with that kind of crowd reaction.
2003 winners: WWE: Chris Benoit-Kurt Angle, WWE Royal Rumble 2003, Boston, MA January 19, 2003; Independent: Steve Corino-Homicide, Ring of Honor, "Bitter Friends, Stiffer Enemies" Fairfield, CT, August 16th, 2003, NWA-TNA: America's Most Wanted-XXX (Christopher Daniels/Elix Skipper) steel cage match, Nashville, TN, June 25, 2003
2002 winners: WWE: Edge/Rey Mysterio vs. Kurt Angle/Chris Benoit, No Mercy, Little Rock, AK, October 20, 2002; Independent: Christopher Daniels vs. Low Ki vs. Spanky vs. Doug Williams - 60 minute Iron Man Match, Ring of Honor, Philadelphia, PA, July 27, 2002
2001 winners: WWF: Edge & Christian vs. Hardy Boyz vs. Dudley Boyz - Tables, Ladders and Chairs II - WrestleMania X-Seven, AstroDome, Houston, TX, April 1, 2001; Independent: Christopher Daniels vs. Low Ki vs. Scoot Andrews vs. American Dragon, East Coast Wrestling Association, Wilmington, DE, September 22, 2001
2000 winners: WCW: Booker T vs. Jeff Jarrett, "Bash At The Beach", Ocean Center, Daytona Beach, FL, June 9, 2000; WWF: "Tables, Ladders and Chairs" Match - Matt/Jeff Hardy vs. Dudley Boyz vs. Edge/Christian, SummerSlam, Raleigh, NC, August 27, 2000. ECW: Psicosis-Yoshihiro Tajiri, ECW Arena, Philadelphia, PA, August 19, 2000
1999 winners: WCW: Chris Benoit-Bret Hart, Monday Nitro, Kemper Arena, Kansas City, MO, October, 1999; WWF: Matt/Jeff Hardy-Edge/Christian, Tag Team Ladder Match, "No Mercy", Cleveland, OH, October 17, 1999; ECW: Rob Van Dam/Jerry Lynn, ECW Arena, Philadelphia, PA, August 28, 1999.
1998 winners: WCW: Chris Jericho/Eddie Guerrero-Chris Benoit/Dean Malenko, November 29th, Knoxville Civic Coliseum; WWF: Mankind (Mick Foley)-Undertaker Hell in a Cell Match "King of the Ring" PPV, June 28, 1998; ECW: Jerry Lynn-Rob Van Dam, August 8, 1998, ECW Arena
1997 winners: WCW: Rey Mysterio, Jr.- Eddie Guerrero, WCW "Halloween Havoc" PPV, 10/27/97, MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, NV; WWF: Shawn Michaels-Undertaker, "In Your House: Badd Blood" PPV, 10/5/97, Kiel Center, St. Louis, MO; ECW: Great Sasuke/Gran Hamada/Masato Yakushiji-TAKA Michinoku/Dick Togo/Terry Boy, "Barely Legal" PPV, 4/13/97, ECW Arena, Philadelphia, PA
2004 CARD/PPV OF THE YEAR:
WWE: Wrestlemania XX, March 14, 2004, Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
If there were no other moment than the sight of Eddie Guerrero as WWE Champion and Chris Benoit as "World" Champion hugging together in the ring as the PPV concluded...this would have made it for me. Wrestlemania also featured a Match of the Year candidate in the match that got Chris Benoit there in HHH-HBK-Chris Benoit, as well as the Kurt Angle-Eddie Guerrero match that got Guerrero his title...not to mention a great (and out of nowhere) heel turn by Trish Stratus in the Christian-Chris Jericho match and the recognition of Bobby Heenan during the Hall of Fame ceremonies.
The show didn't lack its rough moments, most notably seeing the Goldberg-Brock Lesnar match turn into a lynchfest by the fans, featuring outright hostility from the MSG crowd that the WWE commentators made no attempt to hide.
Independent: At Our Best, Ring of Honor, March 13, 2004, Rex Plex, Elizabeth, NJ
For many reason that go outside the usual...I'm going for Ring of Honor's "At Our Best" March 13th show at the Rex Plex in Elizabeth, NJ as my independent show of the year.
This show already was, in large part because of the March 13-14 weekend also being Wrestlemania weekend, shaping up to be the largest crowd in Ring of Honor history.
Anyone who's followed independent wrestling knows what happened only 10 days before the show....
As the date for the show approached, picture yourself in the position of those within the locker room of Ring of Honor, and imagine what doubts and questions you were personally dealing with:
Would the show even happen? There were fairly substantial rumors that the Rex Plex was going to cancel the show.
Others wondered who would show up for the show, after the cancellation of Roddy Piper and Abyss for the March 13th show, and Bobby Heenan from a upcoming series of Midwest shows, built around his appearance.
Some wondered how many in the crowd would show up...and whether or not there would be pickets at the venue after heavy online pressure and phone calling campaigns directed at the Rex Plex.
Who could or would deal with all the issues surrounding the incident of March 3, 2004; let alone the issues surrounding any show in front of this large an audience?
With all that confronted the promotion...Ring of Honor did indeed hold the show that became known as "At Our Best". The show started with a high-spot parade with The Amazing Red working Teddy Hart, Sonjay Dutt, Jimmy Rave, Jack Evans, and Mark Briscoe in the opener. Other matches included Xavier-Slyk Wagner Brown, Jerry Lynn-Nigel McGuiness, Matt Stryker-John Walters, Danny Maff and B.J. Whitmer-Colt Cabana and Ace Steel.
The feature matches saw AJ Styles defeat CM Punk to retain the Pure Wrestling Title, with Ricky Steamboat as guest referee, (only to be forced weeks later to vacate the title by TNA), Samoa Joe defeating Jay Briscoe to retain the ROH World Title in a Steel Cage Match that surprised some by its quality and The Carnage Crew (H.C. Loc, Tony DeVito, Justin Credible and Masada) defeating Special K in Scramble Cage II.
Ring of Honor held that show...survived the controversies that followed...and has moved on to again prosper as 2004 ended. For that reason and that reason alone, the show deserves an award as independent show of the year.
2003 winners: WWE: WWE Wrestlemania XIX, Safeco Field, Seattle, WA, March 30, 2003; Independent: All Japan/Ring of Honor Final Battle 2003, Philadelphia, PA December 27, 2003; NWA-TNA: NWA-TNA Super X Cup, Nashville Fairgrounds, Nashville, TN, September 3, 2003 (taped August 20 and 27, 1993)
2002 winners: WWE: WWE Summer Slam 2002, Fleet Center, Boston, MA, August 25, 2002, Independent: Ring of Honor "Road To The Title" Philadelphia, PA, June 22, 2002
2001 winners: WWF: WrestleMania X-Seven, AstroDome, Houston, TX, April 1, 2001, Independent: 2001 Super Eight tournament, ECWA, St. Matthew's Parish Hall, Wilmington, DE February 24, 2001
2000 winner: WWF "Fully Loaded", Reunion Arena, Dallas, TX, July 23, 2000
1999 winner: "Anarchy Rulz", ECW Odeum Sports and Exposition Center, Villa Park, IL, September 19, 1999
1998 winner: "Survivor Series", St. Louis, MO, Keil Center, November 15, 1998
1997 winner: "Barely Legal", ECW Arena, Philadelphia, PA, April 13, 1997
2004 WORST CARD/PPV OF THE YEAR:
WWE "Great American Bash", Norfolk, VA, The Scope, June 27, 2004.
How about bastardizing the history of one of the best series of PPVs WCW ever did...apparently just because you can? Sounds like what Vince McMahon called the "Great American Bash", held this year in Norfolk, VA...a former WCW stronghold....in a pay-per-view that featured a main event that insulted the intelligence of a three year old.
People actually paid money for such matches as Kenzo Suzuki-Billy Gunn, Sable-Torrie Wilson (if I want to see a catfight, Philadelphia has better places to see two women engaging in simulated whatever it was that Wilson and Sable were doing), and Mordecai-Hardcore Holly.
If that's not bad enough, the show also gave us the beginning of one of the worst title runs ever, as John "Bradshaw" Layfield defeated Eddie Guerrero in a Texas Bullrope Match to win the WWE Championship, with a screw finish that infuriated the crowd to the point that they sat on their hands for the utter abortion of a main event.
To conclude, The Undertaker defeated The Dudley Boyz in a Concrete Crypt Handicap Match, and "killed" Paul Bearer....a certain enough fact that Bearer's own website depicted a tombstone for the character. So one would think if we fans had to go through this lame premise, WWE would actually go through with the storyline and its followup, right?
Bearer was "killed" until too many online writers pointed out that Vince McMahon had said that they didn't depict rape or murder on their shows (apparently the annual killing of the pushes of RVD and Chris Jericho don't count).
Suddenly Bearer "recovered" and was only in serious condition.
2003 "winner:" WWE No Mercy, Baltimore, MD, October 19, 2003
2002 "winner": World Wrestling All-Stars Eruption, Melbourne, Australia, April 13, 2002
2001 "winner": WCW "Sin", January 14, 2001, Indianapolis, IN.
2000 "winner": WCW Slamboree, Kemper Arena, Kansas City, MO, May 7, 2000
1999 "winner": WCW Fall Brawl 1999
1998 "winner": WCW Fall Brawl 1998
1997 "winner": ECW Hardcore Heaven 1997, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
2004 BEST TV SHOW OF THE YEAR:
Ohio Valley Wrestling, WBKI 34, Louisville, KY (airing in Kentucky and Indiana)
Again...the one TV show with logical and coherent old school storylines has been OVW's TV. Jim Cornette has managed to do this despite many McMahon call-ups with no allowance to finish OVW main event storylines (not to mention WWE pulling stunts like pairing Damaja and Doug Basham last year).
Cornette even somehow survived having to initiate the Muhammad Hassan (formerly Mark Magnus...who "converted to Islam") and Shawn "Khosrow" Daivari Arab gimmicks (which reports had even the live OVW crowds literally turning their backs and shooting a middle finger at the gimmick) or having to use long-time local boy and OVW star Nick Dinsmore in his Eugene gimmick while making a brief return to OVW.
As I said last year...even with the old-school feel, it's wrestling you don't have to be embarrassed to watch... or tell your friends you watch, either.
2003 winner: Ohio Valley Wrestling, WBKI 34, Louisville, KY (airing in Kentucky and Indiana)
2002 winner: Ohio Valley Wrestling, WBKI 34, Louisville, KY (airing in Kentucky and Indiana)
2001 winner: Monday Night RAW, TNN
2000 winner: Monday Night RAW, USA Network and TNN
1999 winner: Monday Night RAW, USA Network
1998 winner: Monday Night RAW, USA Network
1997 winner: Monday Nitro, Turner Network Television
2004 WORST TV SHOW OF THE YEAR:
WWE Smackdown, WWE/UPN
I never thought I'd get to the point where I tape a wrestling show (taped since I work Thursday evenings at my job with a post-secondary allied health school) and largely re-wind the tape before I even look at it.
Let's look at the "highlights" of Smackdown this year:
John Heidenriech's aforementioned poetry reading/simulated anal rape of Michael Cole....
The "stabbing angle" involving Carlitos Colon and John Cena
Tough Enough, which featured 20 year old men dressing up in drag,
2003 "winner": The Wrestling Federation (yep, that was actually their name) aired in Philadelphia, southeastern Pennsylvania, Delaware, southern New Jersey on WGTW Channel 48
2002 "winner": WXW Rage TV - aired in Philadelphia, northeastern Pennsylvania, north central New Jersey, and syndicated in parts of American Samoa, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida.
2001 "winner": Monday Nitro, WCW, TNT
2000 "winner": Monday Nitro, TNT
1999 "winner": Monday Nitro, TNT
1998 "winner": Music City Wrestling TV
1997 "winner": USWA Television, USWA
2004 TV ANNOUNCER OF THE YEAR:
Dan Wilson/Steven Prazak, NWA Wildside
Until Philadelphia fans suffered the loss of their televised independent wrestling (and syndicated WWE wrestling) this fall with the sale of WGTW Channel 48 to Trinity Broadcasting Network...Philadelphia fans got to view these treasures each week. Fortunately, much of the rest of the country still can.
Dan Wilson and Steven Prazak keep viewers amused with just the right amount of smarkiness and inside references without going overboard, but first make sure they accomplish the primary job of announcers...getting over the storylines and characters that fans are viewing.
2003 winner: Mike Tenay, NWA-TNA PPV/TNA Explosion
2002 winner: Mike Tenay, NWA-TNA PPV/TNA Explosion
2001 winner: Jim Ross, WWF
2000 winner: Jim Ross, WWF
1999 winner: Jim Ross, WWF
1998 winner: Jim Ross, WWF
1997 winner: Mike Tenay, World Championship Wrestling
2003 WORST TV ANNOUNCER OF THE YEAR:
Jonathan Coachman, WWE Sunday Night Heat and WWE Monday RAW, WWE
Honorable mention goes to Al Snow for his annoying and disrespectful use of the word "Baba Ganoush" (as a synonym for "Jobber") always substituted for the last names of wrestlers brought in as enhancement talent to WWE talent on Sunday Night Heat. At least that's one good thing about Tough Enough on Smackdown...we were spared that garbage. It's especially disappointing to see someone like Snow doing this given his role in training developmental talent.
2003 "winner": Jonathan Coachman, WWE Sunday Night Heat, WWE Monday RAW
2002 "winner": Jessica Dally, WXW Rage TV
2001 "winner": Tony Schiavone, WCW, TNT and TBS
2000 "winner": Tony Schiavone, WCW
1999 "winner": Tony Schiavone, WCW
1998 "winner": Bert Prentice, MCW
1997 "winner": Tony Schiavone, WCW
2004 NEWS STORIES OF THE YEAR:
One of the most notable stories was Brock Lesnar leaveing WWE to try out for the NFL. Lesnar left WWE to attempt a try-out with the NFL's Minnesota Vikings after he decided he'd had enough of the travel and lifestyle of WWE, largely leaving the WWE Smackdown "brand" in a tailspin from which it hasn't yet creatively recovered to this day. Lesnar's try-out was not successful, particularly after a groin inuury hampered his ability to succeed in training camp, difficult enough given the fact that he hadn't played football since 1995.
One of the more shocking was RF Video/Ring of Honor's Rob Feinstein implication in a pedophile sting; when on March 3, 2004, Feinstein was implicated in a sting by the Preverted-Justice.com organization and WCAU Channel 10 in Philadelphia, as several men came to a house of suburban Philadelphia to seek sex from underage teens. Feinstein was one of those implicated, after he was seen clearly on WCAU Channel 10 running from a camera of the station, after engaging in an online chat where he seeks sex from a 14 year old boy.
Feinstein was forced out of Ring of Honor, as a result of the situation; but seems to be unfazed by the incident, and claims that he will return to wrestling after the conclusion of his non-compete agreement with Ring of Honor concludes.
One of the stories with the potential longest-term impact is the departure of Pat Patterson from WWE after a disagreement with Vince McMahon over the mega-push of son-in-law HHH. Patterson reported what every wrestling fans could have told Vince McMahon, that one of the major reasons that WWE’s TV ratings and house show attendance has dropped is the mega-push given to HHH. After a strong disagreement, Patterson decided to retire from WWE, this ending an extended and distinguished career in wrestling.
With this incident, it was clear that McMahon has allowed his feelings about his family to come before his judgment about business to a point where no reasonable person can ignore it any longer.
One of the other reasons for ratings decline beside HHH was the fact that reality show-style programming has intruded onto actual wrestling on WWE programming with "Diva Search" and "Tough Enough" in 2004.
Both RAW and Smackdown were infected with unreal "reality programming" style content during 2004, as RAW featured a "Diva Search" designed to create new (and lower-paid) "divas" for its RAW show, and a bastardized version of "Tough Enough", designed to create a new star, shown on Smackdown.
With TNA, there was the new TV slot on various Fox Sports Net affiliates. However, even with the new television slot, there was hostility and outright lack of support by Internet fans and northeast independent fans after TNA pulled its talent from Ring of Honor; as well as the imposition of booking fees on "their talent" working other independents, and TNA's demand for the right to storyline control.
Fans have been known in several promotions, including Ring of Honor, Jersey All Pro Wrestling and IWA Mid-South Wrestling to go so far as to chant "F$#k TNA" as well as similar chants directed at Jeff Jarrett at a number of shows, a fact reported in many places on the Internet.
Another major change was the promotion's abandonment of its weekly PPV format as it went to a monthly PPV format, and simultaneous abandonment of its live Nashville crowd for a glorified Orlando TV studio at Universal/Orlando.
2003 stories: The epidemic of deaths within wrestling (many of which involved past or current drug and alcohol use), NWA-TNA survives for another year, continued problems with WWE house show/TV taping business, controversial and active Philadelphia independent scene
2002 stories: The WWF "brand extension", dropping WWE house show business, PTC forced to surrender, NWA-TNA, Philadelphia independent wars
2001 stories: WWF purchase of WCW, ECW closes its doors, WCW "Invasion angle" goes nowhere, WWF ratings and live attendance drop
2000 stories: Mainstreaming of wrestling continues, WWF-ECW-TNN-USA TV network roulette, WWF goes public, PTC censorship attempts continue... but with organized efforts fighting them, WCW set to lose as much as $80 million
1999 stories: Deaths of Owen Hart and Brian Hildebrand, Foley's "Have A Nice Day" goes to #1 on New York Times Best-Seller List, WWF CD DEBUTS at number 4 on Billboard Chart, ECW TV on TNN, Parents Television Council censorship attempts
1998 stories: Changes in WWF product (making it more adult in nature), ECW's 1998 problems, Mainstream attention given the wrestling business, Jesse Ventura's election to Governorship of Minnesota
1997 stories: Brian Pillman death, Bret Hart leaving WWF/Title Change Doublecross
That's the AS I SEE IT year in review.
Until next time...
If you have comments/questions, or if you'd like to add the AS I SEE IT
column to your website, I can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org)